Saturday, February 28, 2009

Job Hunting Help! returns

We offered our first ever, Job Hunting Help computer class on January 22. Those of you who missed it can come to the Library's Technology Center on Tuesday, March 3 or Tuesday, April 7 from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. for additional sessions. The class will cover local walk-in resources for finding jobs, helpful resume-writing and interviewing books and a few of the most useful, accurate, and up-to-date websites, including job hunting specifically for South Bay Area jobs on craigslist. Formatting resumes and uploading them via email will be demonstrated. Bring yours along for personal assistance. Students will have time for hands-on practice in this special two-hour class.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Read Across America

The Cat in the Hat promises to be the most popular book that will be read on Monday, March 2 as children and adults celebrate the 12th annual Read Across America event, sponsored by the National Education Association.

Some children will be wearing P.J.s to school and curling up with cuddly stuffed animals and favorite stories. Other classes will be enlisting adults in the community to spend time in the classroom reading to the children. There will be sports figures and politicians reading Green Eggs and Ham and other favorites by Dr. Seuss, the beloved children's author who was born on March 2, 1904.

The NEA chose Seuss' birthday as the date for the Annual Read Across America celebration that is designed to motivate children to read and to encourage adults to share books with the younger members of the community.

You'll find picture books and easy readers by Dr. Seuss in the Youth Services Department of the Santa Clara City Library.
posted by jtb

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Anthony Bourdain Would Not Approve

Tonight is the season finale of Top Chef (Go Carla!). Like many other people, I will watch the show and criticize what the chefs are making as if I had any idea of how to cook. I do not. Moreover, I will be especially tough on their protein dishes, which is ironic seeing as I have an aversion to cooking meat. It grosses me out. Not eating it mind you, just cooking it.

I am a special type of hypocrite: the reluctant non-vegetarian vegetarian. Morningstar Farm products pack my freezer, steakhouses burden my wallet. I try not to eat meat, but an FLT (fake bacon or “facon,” lettuce, and tomato) tastes nothing like a real BLT. It’s not even close. So to avoid these disappointments, I have decided to either start cooking with meat again or give it up entirely. No more half-measures. And as with so many things in life, squeamishness will make the choice for me. Goodbye beef, hello beets. Sigh. I’ll miss you bacon.

But perhaps it’s for the best. This way I can assuage my uncomfortable feelings and boost my punk points at the same time. Plus, I hear there are cupcakes involved, so sign me up.

But somewhere out there is a tri-tip waiting to lure me back to my old ways. I imagine defeat will smell like hickory smoke and marinade.
posted by jw

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Native Plants Event February 28-March 1

"Hope for A Green Future: Restoring your Local Ecology One Garden at a Time" takes place from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m -4 p.m. Sunday at Middlebrook Gardens 76 Race Street in San Jose organized by The California Native Garden Foundation. The cost is $35 per family. For more information visit the California Native Garden Foundation's website ( follow the link above or call (408) 292-9993.

Your ticket gets you seven free lectures on native gardening, birding, growing your own food, discounts at the only native plant nursery in San Jose, garden tours and free food and music. There's even a scavenger hunt and and a cooking contest. Register here.

Alrie Middlebrook, of Middlebrook Gardens, spoke at the Library last summer. Her book, Designing California Native Gardens can be requested at the library. Need help? Call (408) 615-2900.

posted by mb

Monday, February 23, 2009

Woman's Day Seeks Library Stories

Woman's Day magazine has announced a call for entries on a timely topic: using the library to help save money. From February 17 through May 18, 2009, women ages 18 and up are invited to send in stories in 700 words or less for a chance to be profiled in the March 2010 issue. Consult the official rules website for more information.

Continuing an eight-year partnership with the American Library Association's Campaign for America's Libraries that has generated millions of dollars worth of editorial coverage for libraries, the March 2009 issue of Woman's Day profiles four women (PDF file) who use the library to improve their health. Copies of Woman's Day are available in the library.

Entries may be submitted on or after 12:00 Noon ET on February 17, 2009 and must be submitted no later than 12:00 Noon ET on May 18, 2009. Please send all entries to If you need assistance with submitting your story using email, ask your local library staff.

posted by mb

Digital TV Conversion

February 17 was the original date for converting from analog to digital TV but Congress has allowed some flexibility in the conversion. Stations now have till June 12, 2009, to implement the change. KQED Television Station has useful information and a video. It says that most Bay Area stations are delaying the conversion but KOFY TV20 CABLE 13 has converted. Read more at the KOFY website. Other local stations ceasing analog broadcasts are KCNS TV38, KICU TV36 (scroll to the bottom), KFTY TV 50 and KTVU TV2 (scroll to the bottom).

If you don't have a cable subscription or a newer television you may be in the market for a digital tuner to upgrade your older television. Coupons for reducing the cost of a digital tuner will still be available for those applying before July 31, 2009. Consumer Reports information on tuners is available at the Consumer Table at the top of the stairs on the second floor of Central Park Library.

For additional information, visit the FCC site for Digital Television Conversion.

posted by Reference

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Kid on the Block

Susan and the Pigeon say "Hello."

Hello, blog readers! I’m Susan Baier, the new Library Division Manager of Youth and Extension Services. My husband and I recently relocated to the Bay Area from Los Angeles.

Previously I served as the Youth Services Supervisor for the Torrance Public Library in southwestern Los Angeles County. Despite living in California for the last seven years, I’m still a Midwestern girl at heart. I grew up a coal miner's daughter in a village in Southern Illinois with a whopping population of 400. (I joke that the population is now 399 since I’m gone.) My grandparents spent their entire lives in Southern Illinois, and my parents still haven’t quite forgiven me that I left.

My husband, a St. Louis native, is excited about adopting the Sharks as his new favorite hockey team (but for baseball, he’s a Cardinal fan forever and always.) I am looking forward to scouting out the best places to shop and eat in the South Bay. Have any suggestions? Stop by the youth services desk and tell me!

I consider myself very fortunate to join the staff of this city and this library, and am eager to continue the tradition of superior public service in Santa Clara. The staff is top-notch, and I am thrilled to be a part of such a dedicated, talented team. The library division I supervise includes youth services, Mission Branch, extension services such as homebound delivery, and our adult literacy program Read Santa Clara. You’ll find me performing storytimes and children’s programs, staffing the youth services desk, and discovering ways to even better serve children and their families. I'll also be a frequent visitor to the Mission Branch and participating in their many literacy activities. Wherever you see me (I'm hard to miss because of my red hair, the bane of my existence or my best attribute depending on my mood), please come up and say hello!
posted by spb

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine...

As a child, you learn a great number of things about the world that seem unchangeable. For example: There are 4 seasons to a year, 24 hours to a day, 50 states in this country, and seven continents on this planet. These are tiny pieces of important information that we tuck away in our pocket and use as the foundation for much of our future knowledge. We will not have to go back and reevaluate this. It just is.

Yet this past week at the California Academy of Science’s planetarium, I was reminded of how 2 years ago one such assumption was pretty much destroyed. Anyone who grew up after the 30s knew the solar system contained 9 planets. We’ve memorized their names, created mnemonic devices to remember their order from the sun, and wrote stellar reports on them when in grade school (well, I can’t speak for yours, but mine… the teacher ran out of gold stars after reading it).

Suddenly (unless you were an astronomer or avid magazine reader), Pluto got 86ed. “Not big enough to be a planet,” they said. For those of us who may have been a bit on the scrawny side when we were younger, this felt personal. Apparently, if Pluto was a planet, then a number of other larger objects in the solar system had to be classified as planets too. Things were about to get very crowded. So to head this off, Pluto went from “planet” to “dwarf planet.” You could either see this as Pluto being demoted, or valiantly taking it for the team.

But this leads to some important questions: Are Scorpios suffering from inferiority complexes now that the ruler of their astrological sign got publicly shamefaced? Is the god of the Roman Underworld miffed since he is now the namesake of a piece of space debris as opposed to a planet? And what exactly did my very educated mother just serve us nine of?
posted by jw

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Job Hunting Help! returns

We offered our first ever, Job Hunting Help computer class on January 22. Those of you who missed it can come to the Library's Technology Center on Tuesday, March 3 or Tuesday, April 7 from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. for additional sessions. The class will cover local walk-in resources for finding jobs, helpful resume-writing and interviewing books and a few of the most useful, accurate, and up-to-date websites, including job hunting specifically for South Bay Area jobs on craigslist. Formatting resumes and uploading them via email will be demonstrated. Bring yours along for personal assistance. Students will have time for hands-on practice in this special two-hour class.

Try these out before the class:

Connect! Job Seeker Center The nonprofit, federally funded employment and training agency located in Sunnyvale.

Occupational Outlook Handout's Job Projections Central featuring California projections.

The Riley Guide at This is an excellent resource for job hunters, featuring sample resumes and cover letter for many different circumstances.

Dick Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute? designed this well-organized, easy-to-use site with useful material for job hunters.

posted by mb

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stroke Warning Signs

Candy, flowers and chocolate are all Valentine's Day favorites, but the American Heart Association reminds us that February is also National Heart Month. Now's the time to become better informed about your family's heart health.

The Youth Services "On the Path to Good Health" exhibit for the month of February features literature with the American Heart Association's Stroke Warning Signs. You are urged to call 911 IMMEDIATELY if you are with someone who exhibits one or more of these warning signs:
  1. Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  5. Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

"On the Path to Good Health" is supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends.

posted by jtb

Saturday, February 7, 2009

E-Books on cell phones?

Amazon is expected to announce a new version of its Kindle reader next week. It also plans to offer Kindle books on cell phones. Google also announced that 1.5 million public domain books will also be available via cell phone. Will more people start reading e-books? Some trends such as the economy and cutting costs, protecting the environment, the rise of self-publishing industry and marketing, the increase of e-books titles and the decline of the newspaper industry point to this fact.
If you want to read more about the economics of the electronic vs paper newspapers, check out a blog post on the Silicon Valley Insider.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial

Next week, on February 12, our country will observe the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States of America. The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration promises to be a memorable event in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country.

Mr. Lincoln's Boys, by Straton Rabin, is one of the new books that has arrived in Youth Services in honor of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial. Illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline portray Lincoln as a patient and loving father who always took time to play with his rambunctious young sons, Tad and Willie. The boys played pranks on the White House staff, providing some lighthearted moments in the dark days of the Civil War. The book describes the thundering of cannons that the boys heard while they were playing on the White House lawn as a battle raged across the river in Virginia, and the streets that were filled with wounded soldiers who trudged back into Washington after the battle.

The Lincolns: a Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, by Candace Fleming, is another new book that examines the lives of the extraordinary couple. Spend some time with this book and you will see photos of the Lincoln family and and other prominent figures, as well as newspaper articles and cartoons, letters and documents. The pain endured by Abraham and Mary, who lost all three of their children, and their personal triumphs and tragedies fill the pages of this book that gives young readers and their families a fresh look at this turbulent time in American history.

posted by jtb

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Can Assure You the Answer Is No

“So if he gets hurt, do you feel it?”
“Can you guys, like, read each others thoughts?”
"What’s it like having the same face as someone else?”

No, only once during a game of pictionary (it blew peoples’ minds), and I don’t have his face, he has mine thank you very much.

As a twin, I’m often asked these sorts of questions (a bit of twin etiquette: these questions are seen as being amazingly gauche. Please don’t ask them unless you are prepared for eye-rolling and a generally well-deserved amount of disdain). This is due to the fact that the public is just fascinated with twins. I don’t quite understand why. Besides looking similar, the only special things we can do are patch up failed marriages through adorable hi-jinks and cause complications during murder investigations with our identical DNA. Booooring.

If you want interesting, albeit often more tragic stories about twins, look to the conjoined twins. Take the Hilton Sisters for example. From the first days of their birth (101 years ago as of tomorrow), they were forced into the sideshow circuit and vaudeville acts to live their life on stage as a public spectacle. Besides a narrative of exploitation (sadly a common theme in the lives of conjoined twins), their stories confront issues of identity and differentiation no average twin could even imagine.

But then again, twins are old news, conjoined or otherwise. Now we have Jon and Kate Plus 8 (twins and a group of sextuplets) not to mention a brand new batch of octuplets for the public to gawk at. Oh, the questions they will be asked.
posted by jw

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Census Worker Temporary Job Recruitment

Recruitment is on now for 646 temporary jobs for the 2010 U.S. Census. The U.S. Census Bureau's San Jose office phone number: (408) 343-8160. Applicants can also use the national number which is (866) 861-2010. To practice the written exam, try these sample tests from the U.S. Census web site. $22 per hour is the starting pay.

Job seekers can also get assistance for free from NOVA, a nonprofit, federally-funded employment and training agency, located at 505 W. Olive Ave., Sunnyvale, near the parking lot for Sunnyvale Public Library. Services include Connect! Job Seeker Center (408) 730-7232 and ProMatch 420 S. Pastoria Ave., Sunnyvale (408) 736-2391. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

posted by mb